Due to many strange events, I elected to fly to my Mom's place southwest of St. Louis, MO for Thanksgiving this year. I got a late start on Friday, Nov. 27 and planned to return on Tuesday Dec. 1 but was unable to return until Dec. 4/5 due to unfavorable winds and/or weather. Direct, this is a 900 statute miles.
The flight from Mid Valley (E98) to Sullivan (UUV) was great. I had great tailwinds all the way and made one fuel stop - total of 5.7 hours flying and 31 gallons of fuel. An average of 160 mph. The flight home was a whole different story. In summary it was VERY cold and took 8.5 hours\50.5 gallons of fuel. An average of 105 mph. The slowest that I saw on the GPS was 82 knots ground speed... Uhgg!
The longer story: For the entire week that I had my plane at the Sullivan, MO airport I was unable to contact ANYBODY there (left messages on posted numbers but no answer and no return calls). I left my plane outside. Temperatures dropped while waiting and I knew she would not start without a pre-heat (she's gotten warm-blooded living in the south). So, a day before departure a trip to Walmart got me a hair dryer, extension chord, and timer. While setting this up on the plane I noted that an exhaust bracket had broken. Back to Walmart looking for an exhaust hangar - no luck. Lowes was next. There I found a nice four foot long chunk of steel that already had holes in it!! I bought a package of hacksaw blades and returned to the airport. An hour or so of messing around netted me one new exhaust hangar (but very low tech). The next morning when I arrived to depart the engine was toasty warm - it is nice when a plan comes together. On my plane, the passenger seat back locks into position to keep air from blowing thru from the tail cone. I forgot to lock it in place before departure and AGAIN during the first fuel stop. I know, I know... Temp in the cockpit was 37 degrees and I was miserable - add in the nasty headwind and turbulence and it was simply not fun. The first fuel stop was in Bartlesville, OK - cold and crosswind landing and takeoff but fine. I hoped to make it to Dalhart, TX but the wind cut my range way short of that so I stopped at Perryton, TX. After departure I noted that the engine was running very hot (220 degrees). I was able to manage the temp with mixture and rpm but didn't like what was going on considering how cold it was outside. So, I landed in Dalhart, TX to investigate. One issue turned into another and if I wanted a ride to a hotel I had to leave right now so off I went. I spent the night considering my options. In the morning I got a ride to the auto parts store, picked up a new thermostat, and then to the airport. I changed the thermostat and ran the engine on the ground. The problem persisted. I removed the thermostat and things improved. I decided to take off for Tucumcari, NM and watch the temps closely. They stayed in line so I continued all the way home (E98 - 2.6 hours) without problem - other than the headwind. Oh yes, I did remember to lock the passenger seat back in place before leaving Dalhart - my what a HUGE difference in cockpit temperature that made!! A lesson that I hope I will not soon forget (do not fly when it is cold!!).
So, what's wrong with the cooling system? Only a guess at this point but I think it might be the water pump. Interesting items during the "event" were: system pressure running at cap pressure (16 psi) and overflow bottle full and overflowing.
Photos below are of my Dad and oldest son Christopher who work on helicopters in the Army (Ft. Campbell, KY). The landscape photos were taken mostly north of Oklahoma City, OK and between Dalhart, TX and Tucumcari, NM. I was passing vehicles on the interstate so I took photos to prove that it could be worse. Yes, I was staying as low as possible to avoid the wind...